Rugby: British & Irish Lions schedule inaugural women's tour to New Zealand in 2027

British & Irish Lions have confirmed their first-ever women's tour to New Zealand in 2027.

Selected from England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland, the Lions men have been one of the game's iconic brands for a century, taking turns to tour New Zealand, Australia or South Africa every four years. 

The confirmation of an inaugural women's visit follows the staging of a successful World Cup and first instalment of the new WXV1 competition in Aotearoa - home of the reigning world champion Black Ferns.

Chelsea Bremner in WXV1 action against Wales.
Chelsea Bremner in WXV1 action against Wales. Photo credit: Getty Images

"Hosting this tour gives our players a pinnacle event that will be a highlight in their career and it provides an aspirational pathway for our emerging players," said NZ Rugby chief executive Mark Robinson.

"There is nothing quite like a Lions tour to engage and excite fans. We think this will have a unique flavour, a freshness and excitement to it, like we saw during the Rugby World Cup.

"We will be taking this tour around the country. It will genuinely be something that all Kiwis can get behind and get excited about.

"As we anticipate the continued growth of the women's game globally, we are going to see these teams bringing to life an amazing tour."

With support from the NZ Government, the itinerary will feature at least five matches, including three tests. Host venues and cities are yet to be confirmed.

"Hosting this event will help us to further increase the value and visibility of women's sport in New Zealand, and create new sporting heroes and role models for our younger generations," said Economic Development Minister Melissa Lee. 

"The onfield action is set to be matched by positive economic benefits, as we look forward to seeing Kiwis pack stadiums and welcoming the legion of fans that will come to New Zealand for this historic tour."

Black Ferns celebrate their World Cup triumph over England.
Black Ferns celebrate their World Cup triumph over England. Photo credit: Photosport

A Lions women's roster would likely be dominated by England players, who have fashioned a formidable Six Nations record of 19 titles, including the last five, and dominated the Black Ferns in the recent WXV competition.

"Significant effort has gone into exploring the concept of a Lions women’s tour, and great credit needs to go to the members of our steering committee, our board, and our staff," said British & Irish Lions chief executive Ben Calveley. 

"Playing three test matches against the current world champions - the Black Ferns - in New Zealand, in front of thousands of fans, represents the ultimate challenge and makes for a fantastic sporting spectacle.

"We look forward to working with all our stakeholders, including NZ Rugby, to finalise an exciting inaugural tour."